It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve “talked” to you. I got home from my North Dakota trip last night and then went to my office today and had one of those long days. You know the one I’m talking about. The days that just drains you and you need a serious recharge night. I’m laying down on my couch with P right now and when Shane gets home we’ll catch up on Dancing with the Stars, which always makes any day better!
I talked to you in the last post about how I travel for work and for the next few months I will be home for about 1.5 days over the weekend before I head back on the road. After each week I’ll be posting my travel journals, and ND happens to be the first one! I love trying new places to eat, drink, and shop while I’m in new places away from home. These travel journals will be pretty chill and I give you my recommendations and thoughts just like I would to a friend. Those are my favorite travel blog posts to read about. When they’re just talking to you and telling you what they did and what they loved!
I know some people may not think of ND as the travel location but trust me. If you have an open mind and an adventurous spirit you can literally find something awesome in every single place you ever travel to. I can tell you a highlight of every single place I’ve ever visited. So if you ever find yourself in ND, make sure you read this post and we’ll scout out the best places together. I mean, hello, Josh Duhamel is a native North Dakotan. There’s your highlight right there. But seriously, ND has some awesome things. Let’s get to it!
The first picture is from the first day we drove into ND. We crossed the border (I had a co-worker with me on this trip, Hi Taylor!) as you can see from the picture and then shortly after found ourselves driving through a state park! It was great and looked pretty identical to the Badlands in SD.
We started out the morning at 5 am and had our first college fair at 1 in Williston, ND. We arrived in Williston, did our work, and then it was time for lunch. We asked a few of the other local counselors where they’d go for lunch and they recommended the Williston Brewing Company. I had to take a picture of the entrance because it screamed my dad. Every handle, even in the bathrooms, was some sort of gun. There was taxidermy inside (not unusual at all in the Dakota’s) but I thought the cowboy boots outside was a cute touch.
Story time: I was born in Wyoming, grew up in South Dakota and Idaho when I was younger, and then exclusively South Dakota for the past 12 years. I know the Midwest, and I love the Midwest. I think the people here are so friendly and I really admire and love the way that a lot of people in the Midwest live their lives. You can walk into a Mom & Pop shop or a local boutique and get to know the owners and learn more about their past and how their business came about, etc. That’s a huge part of what I love about the Midwest. It’s just friendly! Working as a waitress in a busy tourist town in the summers I always heard people say that they really enjoyed how nice and friendly everyone around here is. So if you ever visit the Midwest just expect to to be treated like a family member or friend!
Ok back to the Williston Brewing Company. I ordered this chicken Caesar salad and the reason I HAD to include this was because it was THE BEST chicken Caesar salad that I have EVER eaten (from a restaurant. Shoutout to my Grandma because her homemade dressing is the bomb). I literally put a bite into my mouth and sat up right and was basically drooling. The seasoning on the chicken was amazing, the salad was crisp, and the dressing was just perfect. It was honestly amazing. They were also recommended by locals and they were in the top restaurants on TripAdvisor.
I included this picture because those of you who travel can relate to this and those of you who haven’t traveled should get prepared for: freezer meals. Sometimes to save money you just can’t go out for lunch or dinner every day and afford your coffee. I am putting coffee ahead of everything so that means sometimes I just have to drive to Target, and pick up a $2 frozen meal. We all do it. I was surprised this one tasted really good though! It was grilled chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and then a pesto sauce. I honestly can’t remember the brand but I know it was only 200 calories and I got it at Target.
The hotel that this picture was taken at, was Staybridge Suites in Minot, ND. After we left Williston we drove to Minot to spend 2 nights there because we had fairs in Minot the next day. This hotel was amazing! It was a large suite with a great breakfast buffet and they also had free dinners Tuesday-Thursday. It was one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in before, so if you end up in Minot go stay there! Free HOT breakfast is my must have when I’m choosing hotels to stay at. I eat eggs or yogurt every morning and when I’m traveling and having really huge and long days, I love filling up with eggs to keep me running all day. One of my biggest tips for any new traveler is to make sure the hotel you’re booking has free hot breakfast. It makes a huge difference.
Selfie because I bought a new jacket (on sale!) at Old Navy for Fall & there was a Starbucks only a few miles from our hotel. Best way to start the day!
Ah thrift stores. My holy grail. My sanctuary. My true self. I LOVE THRIFT STORES. Taylor (my co-worker) also loves to go to thrift stores and so we made sure to stop at different thrift stores along the way. This was the only one I took a picture of but I did find this super cute coffee mug there. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Thrift stores are where I find some of my absolute best buys. The items in my house and closet I get complimented the most over, are often things I dug out from a thrift store.
I didn’t get pictures of the others but my finds from thrift stores over the week included a YSL tie for Shane, new hardcover books for my niece, an oversized grey cardigan from Old Navy for me, a set of 4 glasses for my dad, and a vintage globe for (drumroll please) only $4! I am going to do a thrift post one day where I show off how I decorate and incorporate thrift store finds into my closet and house, and Globes are a huge part to my home decor. I had 5 globes and now have 6. Woo hoo! I always keep an eye out for a little souvenir for my family from my travels and I’m hopeful for MN, OR, ID, and WA to find even more.
Ok back to food! We wanted to go somewhere local for dinner in Minot and after looking at Trip Advisor we decided we’d head to Ebeneezer’s which was an Irish Pub in the middle of the city. We found out after we left that there was the bar/pub part and then there was a more restaurant part. When we parked we were by the bar entrance though, and went in, and we were both happy we did because we ended up getting a drink. Mine was the beautiful Moscow Mule pictured above! I love Moscow Mule’s, especially in the summer. I know it’s not really summer anymore, so apparently I just love them year round.
The atmosphere was great here. It was super relaxed, the lighting was dimmer, and there was live music. I didn’t get a name of the musician, but he was AWESOME. I literally was singing along to every song he played. The menu here was huge. They served breakfast all day, they had a lot of Irish meals, salads, burgers, sandwiches, etc. I asked the waitress for her recommendation and she said the Kettle Jack was one of their most popular items. So yeah, I got the Kettle Jack. It wasn’t healthy and I have been talking a lot about healthy meals, but that’s what cheat meals are for, and I decided I could give up my cheat meal for the week on the Kettle Jack. It was so worth it. The burger was cooked great but the toppings are what really made it. They were homemade (I believe that’s what the menu said) kettle chips and a heated up Monterrey jack cheese was slathered on top. I got a wheat bun so that helps right? I don’t know and really don’t care, because this burger was DELICIOUS. I ate every single bite. No wonder it’s one of the most popular items on the menu. Taylor got a chicken fried steak and she said it was great too.
The next day we woke up early and left Minot to drive to Bottineau, ND. We had a college fair in Bottineau and Devils Lake that day so we had to leave Bottineau right after we finished the fair but I had to get a picture of their mascot because he reminded me of my High School mascot, Scooper Sam.
We finished our fair in Devil’s Lake and then had to drive to Grafton. It was a looong day. When we got back I was so tired but I needed to email my photos for my upcoming article in 605 Magazine to the editor. I laid on the bed and gained a second wind before finishing up my work. We changed into some comfy clothes and headed out to find somewhere for dinner. Taylor also loves little local diners so both were searching for one. Lucky for us, Granny’s Restaurant was right across the street from our hotel!
The thing I love about these small town diners is that they usually are one of few restaurants in the town, so their menus are so inclusive! There was Mexican food, breakfast, lighter items, ice cream, pies, burgers, and much more. I also love the prices! They’re so affordable and the cooking is as close as you can get to home cooked when you’re away from home. I ordered a Taco Salad and Taylor ordered a Burger.
Remember how I said at the beginning that I loved the Midwest because everyone is so friendly? Well here’s a real life story to back that up. We finished our food and the restaurant was closing to get their carpet cleaned. We were paying our tabs with the waitresses and ended up talking to them about how we were out of town and they started telling us about their local coffee shop and told us we had to go there the next day. We kept talking and then noticed they had ice cream so we decided to order some. I only had my card and the full cup was $1.35. The waitress said she didn’t want me to use my card for such a small fee so she pulled the change from her pocket and paid for my ice cream. I love that people can do such a small thing like that but make it mean so much, because kindness really goes a long way.
The next day we woke up in Grafton and again, knew it was going to be a long day. We had a fair and then a 9 hour drive back home to Rapid. We took the recommendation from Granny’s and drove down to the local coffee shop, The Daily Grind. The owner was so sweet and I saw that she had Cronuts, which I have never tried. I bought one and a coffee and Taylor ordered a breakfast sandwich. While the owner was making our items I took some pictures of her packaged coffee beans, because they were stamped with shiny coffee beans! I love all things shiny and glittery, if you can’t tell from this blogs name.
After we finished our work in Grafton, it was time to get back on the road. We had a long drive ahead of us, and we were both anxious to get home to our puppies and guys! It started as a gloomy day outside and gloomy makes me want to nap, not drive. But the show had to go on.
We drove for 4 hours and stopped in Bismark to get lunch. Again, I pulled up Trip Advisor and The Little Cottage Cafe was in the top 10 restaurants in Bismark and was a diner so we went there for lunch. They had a pink sink in the bathroom which was so cool, but the color wasn’t showing up great in pictures. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich on wheat bread and Taylor got a salad. There were a lot of regular customers in there who told us everything was good, so there’s your recommendation!
Finally we were on the home stretch and I snapped this picture of “Geese in Flight” on the Enchanted Highway. The route we took to get home didn’t drive down the entire highway but this sculpture was able to be seen from the highway. It had stopped being gloomy and the sky looked so pretty through the sculpture. From there we only had a few hours left and made it home safely. That’s the wrap up of the trip!
I really enjoy being able to travel as part of my job and see places I may not have visited otherwise. Tomorrow I have a 12 hour drive to International Falls in Minnesota, and will be gone for 6 days. I love Minnesota and I was last there in May for work, so I’m excited to be back! I hope you guys liked this look into Small Town America and saw that there is always something great to find no matter where you travel. ND does have larger cities, and Minot and Bismark are two of them, but the majority of our time was spent in the smaller towns. Have you ever been to ND? Would you consider going now? Let me know if you have any questions about this trip, traveling, or North Dakota!